A New Commitment Pathway for Offenders With Serious Mental Illness: Expedited Diversion to Court-Ordered Treatment

Psychiatr Serv. 2021 Aug 1;72(8):969-971. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000436. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Abstract

The authors propose a new form of civil commitment that would benefit individuals with serious mental illness involved with the criminal justice system. This population has complex needs rooted in comorbid conditions, alienation from treatment and support systems, and poor access to care. Although many dollars are spent on costly assessments and hospitalization of jail detainees with serious mental illness to ensure that they are competent to stand trial, these detainees typically do not receive adequate services during incarceration or after release and recidivate at high rates. The proposed commitment pathway would expeditiously divert offenders with serious mental illness into treatment, providing services under court supervision while avoiding unnecessary and often fruitless interactions with the criminal justice system.

Keywords: Commitment pathway; Forensic psychiatry; Involuntary commitment; Jails and prisons; Not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI).

MeSH terms

  • Commitment of Mentally Ill
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminals*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy